Cheap, plentiful and easy to obtain, dung has long been the home cook's best friend when it comes to heating up an oven. Of course, modernization and the social stigma of cooking and heating with animal excrement have helped push dung back outdoors in many places. But, in Central Asia at least, economic realities are forcing some people to give the original sustainable fuel source a second look. From a new RFE/RL report:
Soaring fuel prices; electricity rationing; early snow -- it's enough to send people scurrying for alternative ways to heat their homes and cook their meals.
In some parts of Central Asia, however, "alternative" doesn't necessarily mean clean burning or eco-friendly. In Uzbekistan, cheap is the operative word, and that means things can get downright, well, earthy.
"Coal is fuel for rich people only," says Eshmurod-Aka, a resident of Uzbekistan's Qashqadaryo province. "Animal manure is only fuel we use now."
Sadirokhun Sophiyev, a resident of the eastern Uzbek city of Andijon, explains that "these hardships have prompted us to find rather unorthodox, alternative ways" to keep the heat going and the stove cooking.
The burning of animal dung for fuel is an age-old practice that had largely faded away. But in the current environment households with livestock once again find themselves slapping manure on barn walls, part of a drying process that will result in dried cakes that can be used for heating.